Although the Election Commission (EC) has denied that there was ballot stuffing in a polling centre during the recent Sarawak state election, the election watchdog that made the allegation is not convinced and wants the EC to show all the Form 14 for the polling centres in that state seat.
Malaysian Election Observation Network (Meo-Net) coordinator Ong Boon Keong (left) raised his doubts in a statement issued today.
"Which set of voting figures are correct? Did the EC adjust the figures after the first set was found to suggest ballot stuffing?" asked Ong, who was among several unofficial election observers in Sarawak during the polls.
At the SK Siong Tengah polling centre, he claimed, BN candidate Joseph Mauh Ikeh polled 251 votes and PKR candidate Mengga Mikui 53 votes. However, their joint tally of 304 votes exceeded the total of 236 registered voters on the electoral roll.
The EC later dismissed the allegation, saying that only 190 ballots were cast at that polling station, of which 148 went to Joseph Mauh, 38 to Mengga and four votes were spoilt.
The EC also said the Form 14 signed by the agents of the parties showed that they approved the count.
Form 14 is the official form the commission uses to record the count at each polling centre.
However, Ong is not satisfied with the explanation. He insisted that the first set of voting figures were supplied by the returning officer to Mengga on Mengga's request.
'Agent may have been bought over'
"Mengga was unable to compile the detailed results of voting in his constituency because the Form 14 from some constituencies, including the one at SK Siong Tengah, were never returned to him and the counting agent for him in the polling centre became unreachable after that.
"He suspects that the counting agent had been bought over by his opponent," said Ong.
This controversy, he said, had exposed another weakness in the current electoral system - the handling of Form 14.
"The Form 14 disclosures have been made only to party agents and no one else. Where there are no party agents at polling centres, or where the agents are bought over, which is a common occurrence in places like Sarawak, the polling results become doubtful," he said.
Ong also said that with the number of polling centres in a state constituency usually being more than 50, this made it an almost insurmountable challenge to candidates with lesser means of deploying adequate polling agents and counting agents (PACA).
"MEO-Net calls upon the EC to disclose the Form 14 at the polling centres so that all members of the public can access these official results," he added
To strengthen his point, Ong cited the example of the Senadin state seat, which was won by BN with a wafer-thin majority of 58 votes, but with a highly suspicious figure of 90 spoilt votes at one polling centre.
"It was known that the opposition candidate didn't have enough PACA, thus the candidate could not be sure of the votes he actually obtained.
"When he was later led to inspect the ballot boxes, he found them spoilt and that the ballots had been mixed together in a bigger container, thus rendering it difficult to ascertain problems at the polling centre level," he said.
"The serious implication is that the spoilt votes could have been 'spoilt' after it was known that the BN candidate had lost," Ong claimed.
"All these show that the Form 14 should be publicly disclosed, and not just to party agents who may not be around."